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Checking in with Lynda Lemon – Duathlon World Champion

Lynda Lemon on the final stretch of the 2015 Toronto Island Triathlon. (Photo by: MultiSport Canada/Mike Cheliak)

Welland’s Lynda Lemon, a Canadian Masters Duathlon and Triathlon legend, made her 23rd trip to the ITU World Championships and brought home gold to add to her already impressive collection of medals.

Lemon competed at 14 Duathlon World Championships and won a total of 4 gold, 2 silver, and 3 bronze medals, and captured 1 silver after 9 appearances at the Triathlon World Championships.

Lynda fills us in on her latest gold medal performance at Adelaide, Australia in October and much more.

TMC: You won the women’s 70-74 category by 28 minutes over the defending World Champion. Was it really that easy? (Note: Lemon completed the International Distance Course in 3:05:40 – 10km run in 59:21, 40 km bike in 1:30:13, and 5km run in 30:46).

Lynda Lemon: As you know there are always concerns leading up to a race. The course, weather, fitness, equipment, past injury, and so on, but I have to say that my race came together pretty well that day. It was a challenging course, especially the bike. The bike course (four 10 km loops) had a total of twelve 180 degree turns! It also had a couple of hills and a few 90 degree turns (one at the bottom of the steepest hill). The run had a few rolling sections, a couple of bridges to cross and about a quarter of it was on unpaved trail. The race was very well organized and well manned with lots of positive Aussie officials and volunteers.

TMC: I find it extremely hard to believe that you are 71 years young. How do you keep on top of your game. How are you managing your body to keep performing at this top level?

LL: Aren’t you kind! Age is only a number, right? I try not to think about my age or those declining times. I recall reading an article about aging athletes that said many stop competing because their ego can’t take the decline in time or performance. I try to remind myself often that I’m fortunate just to be able to compete in triathlon or duathlon. Winning isn’t as important as just being able to race.

TMC: What does a typical training day/week look like for you?

LL: My training has really changed since I retired (about a decade ago – from teaching). While I was working I had to make good use of my training time so I squeezed in all the intervals, hill repeats, bricks, that I could. Now it’s all about enjoying what I do. So I really don’t “train” any more. I go for long bike rides (as long as 80 km) with friends and runs along the canal or in a nearby park (just 10-15 km). From about April to November I would run about 3 times per week and cycle about the same. Swimming is my least favourite and do that once or twice a week.

TMC: How do you measure your intensity during training? Do you go by feel or make use of any electronic devices to measure heart rate, distance, or power? How much high intensity do you do?

LL: Just a heart rate monitor. No fancy techie gear. The effort on my rides (and runs to a lesser extent) is determined by the folks I’m riding with. Usually guys and they’re faster than me. I race a lot. In 2015, I competed in 8 triathlons, 2 duathlons, and 7 running races. I regard my races as my speed work.

TMC: Do you do any activities other than swim, bike or run to stay in shape?

LL: Yoga. I am trying to get rid of some of the inflexibility that goes with age. I do some strength training too.

TMC: Tell us about the work that you and your husband Ron have done in Welland over the years to support triathlon. What drives you both to keep doing this? It’s quite a group of volunteers you manage to get out year after year.

LL: Welland has had a triathlon since the late 1980’s and Ron has been involved since near the beginning. It was started in memory of a fellow that Ron knew – Mike Burwell – died suddenly. Ron is the one responsible for recruiting all the volunteers. He’s always been involved in sports (mostly basketball) and has lots of contacts. He does a great job. By the way, did you ever do it when the bike was a 40k loop with Effingham hill? Locally we call it “Effing hill.”

(Editor’s note: If you are in the area training, check out this climb. It’s well worth the detour.)

LL: I’m booked for Cozumel in 2016 (ITU Triathlon World Championships). So I need to get to the pool sometime soon – New Year’s resolution.

TMC: After dominating your age group, should we expect that you won’t be done with duathlon or triathlon anytime soon?

LL: I love triathlon/duathlon. I love the lifestyle and being healthy and fit. I was diagnosed with breast cancer the summer I did my first triathlon (1991) and have always maintained that my training and racing after that were an important part of my therapy. I feel fortunate to be able to do what I do, even though it’s getting rather slow.